Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ligne claire

Tintin , the evergreen young globtrotting reporter, has captivated generations of readers, and continues to do so. The great success has been attributed to Herge, the creator's genius in bringing together some fabulous ingredients such as a clear story, a free and smooth flow, attention to reality, be it the script or the art, pleasing soft colors, and above all to the style of art he invented, later to be called, the Clear Line.

Clear Line, uses lines of uniform thickness(rather thinness) to show the outlines, the contours, the change of planes of the form, leaving out tones and other such details. The technique of 'feathering' used extensively by the great Alex Raymond is totally missing(no comparisons here.. Alex was a giant, his realistic rendering took comics art to grander levels). This produces in itself a certain clarity and hence simplifies the whole thing amazingly. Herge followed this clarity into the story line as well.

Herge used this style in all of his art, and went on to create a following in the comics creating world, spawing the use of Clear Line. Perhaps the most famous being The Simpsons..

Paul Gravett, has a couple of captivating articles on this interesting topic at his wonderful site, read more here.

Here are couple of awesome videos throwing more light on the ligne claire movement...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Book Review: How To Draw Comics the Marvel Way

Well Rounded

This is sort of a classical text, focused on covering the various aspects of drawing comics.

Though drawing comics involves a lot about learning to draw, I would think that an ability to draw whether inherent or acquired would be a necessary starting point to effectively use this book. On the contrary one might as well get started here and then hone the necessary drawing skills.

As in any specific form of art, such as Illustration, Fine art, Animation art, Commercial art etc, Comics art has its own set of skills that need to be honed.

This is a book written by Stan lee and John Buscema, one a great story teller and the other a fine artist. It does cover several aspects of the trade.

As the title suggests the genre is more towards the 'Action' side, as opposed to a style such as Disney, Asterix or that of Herge's Tintin.

A significant amount of the book focuses on the figure and its action, which is so vital to this type of comics, and these are real gems. The quick setup of a pose, the dynamism needed for convincing action, the looseness of the approach, and then the focus on the form, the details of the figure the head and so on are very effectively presented. The other important ingredients of composition, perspective, foreshortening are covered in detail.

There are of course couple chapters that deal with comic book covers, and the all important comics inking.

Though obviously this was written in a pre-digital period, all the information can be readily applied to today's all-digital comics creation.

Coming from successful practicing veterans, the entire book is packed with practical information.

This is an extract from my review at, You can find more of my reviews